Understanding How Group Therapy Helps Addicts to Heal

Despite knowing the risks, nobody who ever begins abusing alcohol and drugs intends to become addicted. In fact, most substance abusers believe they will be able to remain in complete control of their substance abuse. They continue with this dangerous habit because they enjoy the intoxication they get from abusing alcohol or using drugs. However, it begins taking more and more alcohol or drugs in order to achieve the desired level of intoxication. As the body adjusts to the continuous intake of these dangerous, mind-altering substances, it begins relying on them for normal, natural functions. For instance, the brain begins to rely on an individual’s substance abuse as the primary source of neurochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin; in the absence of alcohol and drugs, levels of these neurochemicals drop, which coincides with physical withdrawal and results in intense cravings.

Living in active addiction is a very lonely and unfulfilling way to live. Addicts are propelled through each day by the persistent fear of withdrawal and must continue to consume alcohol or drugs in order to keep withdrawal at bay. Meanwhile, an addict’s physical and mental health suffers as well as his or her relationships with others, worsening an already bleak situation. Fortunately, recovery affords these individuals with a means of overcoming the numerous profound effects of alcoholism and drug addiction by treating them with a variety of therapeutic techniques, each of which address specific effects of addiction. Group therapy is often considered a staple of any effective addiction treatment regimen, but few fully understand why group therapy is so beneficial to individuals who are in addiction recovery. Therefore, the following will define group therapy and explain some of the chief benefits it offers to those trying to heal from the many effects of addiction.

What Exactly is Group Therapy?

happy man in group therapy

When most people think of therapy, they imagine a patient lying on a sofa and discussing his or her childhood while a psychotherapist sits nearby and listens. While individual therapy does entail sessions taking place between a single patient and a single counselor, there are other types of therapy as well, some of which involve more than one patient. Group therapy is an inherently social form of counseling in which a group of individuals are treated by one or more counselors. Compared to individual therapy in which individuals may talk to a therapist about personal or sensitive information, group therapy is most often used for educational or social purposes. For instance, group therapy is an effective medium for individuals to learn a variety of life skills or about specific topics such as how to manage anger or cope with intense emotions. Alternately, group therapy is a great way for individuals to learn how to socialize and relate to one another such as when individuals share their experiences with others in group sessions. Each patient can experience the perspectives of others in the session, which can be extremely helpful as it allows them to consider familiar feelings, thoughts, or experiences from a different viewpoint.

How Addicts Heal in Group Therapy

There are two main types of group therapy can be effectively used to treat substance abuse: self-help groups and interpersonal process groups. Self-help groups could be considered similar to twelve-step meetings in that they are led by patients rather than a professional. Additionally, self-help groups often emphasize members’ similarities, shared experiences, and how their different perspectives can help one another. This type of group therapy has proven beneficial because it offers patients or members a peer support system, which encourages perseverance and strength of will. In effect, members of self-help groups encourage one another to continue to succeed in treatment and recovery. Individuals also become better able to deal with things like cravings by learning some of the effective techniques or strategies that have worked for others. Moreover, this helps to counter the imposing loneliness that addicts feel while in active addiction, often resulting in the regression of social and communication skills and making it difficult for them to relate to others.

In interpersonal process groups, a professional leads a group of patients in sessions that may focus on education, intragroup — or within-the-group — conduct and communication, how they identify themselves and/or others, relationships with individuals outside of the group, and ways that one’s past and history shape one’s present. Oftentimes these process groups will teach specific skills or strategies, including coping mechanisms that don’t involve substance abuse, role-playing to learn how to communicate with loved ones, and so on. In short, these process groups provide a means for individuals to counter many of the developmental and behavioral effects of addiction in a social setting, making them better able to communicate with others and preparing them for when they will become solely accountable for their own sobriety.

Recovery Hub Can Help You Regain Your Mental & Physical Health

There are many different components to addiction treatment. It’s important for those who are suffering from addiction to find the treatments or programs that best address their individual needs. If you or someone you love would benefit from learning more about the addiction recovery programs that are currently available, call Recovery Hub at 1-888-220-4325 today. Our recovery specialists are on standby, ready and waiting for your call.

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